BHOC: SUPERMAN FAMILY #176

The supermarket my mother would sometimes frequent occasionally carried some comics. It was never many, and there didn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to what ended up on their shelves. One title they seemed to get semi-consistently was SUPERMAN FAMILY, and that’s how I wound up with this issue, one earlier than the previous issue that I had bought.

The tone of SUPERMAN FAMILY at this point can best be described as “pleasant.” It contained a new story, rotating between Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane, as well as a couple of reprints typically from the years of Mort Weisenger’s tenure as SUPERMAN editor. While there were stakes to these stories, the stakes never seemed especially high, and the jeopardy never especially grim. It was all entertaining, but unremittingly “nice” as well. 

The lead story this time was a Jimmy Olsen tale, in which the red-headed newshound investigated the mysterious death of a Country Music superstar by going undercover as a would-be singer himself, with songs supplied by Superman of course. It’s the equivalent of one of the then-contemporary investigation-adventure shows of the period such as Hart To Hart–Jimmy is in danger throughout, but the Kurt Schaffenberger artwork and the overall whimsical flavor of the piece keep you from worrying about him too much.

The culprit turns out to the be the not-actually-dead Red Tucker himself, who then seals Jimmy up in a huge bust of his likeness that Superman is going to hurl into orbit as a tribute to the late star, as insane as that sounds. But Superman is already one step ahead of Red, and he instead throws the bust so that it lands almost atop the singer’s getaway boat, capsizing it, and allowing Jimmy to make the actual bust.

Then came the reprints, including this Lois Lane story done relatively late in Weisenger’s tenure, and penciled by FLASH mainstay Irv Novick. Lois is given a story reporting on the Stanislav method acting technique, which she investigates by taking his class. In order to prove his acting chops, a fellow student poses as Superman and feigns losing his super-powers when Lois as Delilah cuts his hair. That’s pretty much the entirety of this entry–there isn’t any manner of action-adventure plot to be found. But Lois’ affection for Superman is once again proven to be motivated by her attraction to the glamor surrounding his super-powered life rather than any affection for the actual man, and she’s a bit humiliated in the process, so it fits the paradigm for the era.

Next up is a Supergirl reprint also drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. It must be said that Kurt’s at was always clean and energetic and inviting–he drew attractively and well and was a good fit for lighter tales such as these, the kinds of stories it’s almost impossible to find in comic books today. In this one, Linda Danvers wins a date with a famous director on a Dating Game-based show, and is given a part in his latest motion picture, which infuriates the female lead, who of course tries to sabotage Linda in ridiculously life-threatening ways. Fortunately, Linda is Supergirl and comes to no harm, and by the end, the diva’s position is restored and everybody goes home happy.

Thereafter came a quick two-page feature spotlighting all of the different identities Jimmy Olsen had adopted over the years. The DC Giants routinely ran these sorts of special features as filler, and they were always a tantalizing look at the histories of the characters, and stories that at the time I never thought I’d be ale to read.

Last up in this special performer-themed issue was a Krypto story (really a Superboy story) in which through a circuitous series of events Krypto finds himself adopted by agent Dan Diamond who represents the wonder dog Jowls and plans to have Krypto be Jowls’ stunt-dog. But Jowls is conceited, and so Krypto instead uses all of his super-powers to humiliate Jowls and to get both him and Dan Diamond fired and drummed out of the business. Truth and Justice indeed!

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